We spent an incredible month, actually 5 weeks slow traveling around the entire island of Sicily. We had a lot of time so it was a real luxury to be able to pace ourselves, to dig deep into the Sicilian culture, to see the whole island, to live like a local and truly experience a lot of what it had to offer.
For us this was the perfect amount of time but if you only have a week or two you could condense this into a faster itinerary with shorter stays, picking and choosing some of the sights. We drove around the entire island of Sicily, about 13 hours of driving split between stays at 7 different locations. Here is our schedule over a five-week period to help plan your own itinerary, where we went, where we stayed and what we saw with suggestions on what you ‘must see’ and the minimum amount of time you’d need here.
As with most people arriving on the island we flew in on one of the discount airlines (Volotea) into its capital city of Palermo. We rented a car directly at the airport (Budget Car Rentals), brought our own GPS which I’d highly recommend and started our tour leaving the airport traveling clockwise around the island.
Our first destination was the ancient seaside town of Cefalu which is a ‘must see’ stop and here is our itinerary as below:
- Cefalu-June 23-27 (4 nights), staying in Campofelice di Rocella, driving time from Palermo about 1 hour.
We decided to stay at an Airbnb near Campofelice di Rocella which is about a half hour drive to Cefalu and was a great area to stay in but there are a variety of hotels, resorts, apartments and B&B’s all along the coast. The town is very cute, it has a nice little piazza, some great cafes, restaurants, bars, grocery stores…everything you’d need for a comfortable stay. We spent 3 days here at 3 different beaches and a day just relaxing and visiting Campofelice but if you have a tight schedule the ‘must see’ is Cefalu and you can do it in a day. You’ll want to spend half the day at the beach and the other half to tour the old historic center. Spend the morning seeing the old town before the mid-afternoon heat and the rest of the day at the beach. For more info on Cefalu; where to park, what to see, about the beach… check out my post on Cefalu, here is a link to our Cefalu photos and our YouTube on Cefalu.
Our next stay was in Millazo, another coastal city that at first glance looks a little industrial, especially from its busy commercial port but this city has lots to offer and is jam packed with nearby ‘must sees’. Here is our is our itinerary as below:
- Milazzo-June 27-30 (3 nights), staying in the city, travel distance from Campofelice di Rocella to Millazo approx. I hr.40 min.
Milazzo was a surprise, it didn’t wow us with first impressions but those quickly changed and I could have spent a few more days here. If you were short on time I’d devote at least two days to explore this area and I’d recommend staying right in the city, we stayed at an Airbnb that was in the historical center right below Milazzo Castle. A ‘must do’ is to book a charter for one of the island cruises out to the active volcano of Stromboli which usually includes a stop at Panerea. Depending on the day of the week you might miss this cruise but a combo of any of the other Aeolian islands would be equally memorable. You’d need a full day to do one of these, cost around $80 per person.
I would fill another day maybe exploring the castle for a few hours in the morning before the high heat of the day, then hike to the Pools of Venus which would fill a few more hours and then spend the rest of the afternoon at Spiagga Tono,, a memorable Sicilian beach. For more info and suggestions on Milazzo; how to get to the pools, the beach, about the cruises, where to park… check back for my upcoming post on Milazzo, Sicily. For now, here is a link to our photos of Milazzo, Stromboli, Panera, a video on Stromboli , a short video on Visiting Milazzo Castle or another video on Tono Beach and The Pools of Venus.
Third stay on our circle of Sicily was Taormina, a ‘must see’ stop and here is our itinerary below:
- Taormina-June 30- July 8 (8 nights), we stayed in Pozzillo, travel distance from Milazzo to Pozzillo approx. I hr.40 min.
We used Pozzillo which is a lovely quintessential, small fishing town as our home base but you could stay right in Taormina or any other of the coastal villages that provide B&B’s, hotels resorts or apartments. I would devote 2-3 days here; We spent the better part of a day in Taormina. It’s a beautiful town with the most stunning views from high above the sea and is known as a haunt for international jetsetters. A place where the rich and famous stop for a prosecco and some shopping, it’s a ‘must see’. Another day and ‘must see’ item is a drive up to the exploration center just beneath Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. Spend a half or full day here.
You’ll need another day to visit one of the most iconic cities of Sicily- Catania. If you loved Naples then you’ll love the chaos of Catania, visit the heart of its ancient center-Piazza del Grande or its famous fish market for a truly Italian experience. If the bustle of the city isn’t your thing then spend a day at one of the nearby beaches, some of Sicily’s best. A smaller town that we loved was Acireale, a lovely, walkable old town with a Spa and Thermal Bath for the hedonists.
For more info and suggestions on Taormina; what to see, how to get to the beach, where to park, what to eat… then check back for my upcoming post on Taormina, Sicily. For now, here is a link to our photos of Taormina, Pozzillo, Mount Etna and Acireale. Here is a link to a few videos on the area; a visit to the town of Acireale and living near the seaside town of Pozzillo.
Fourth stay on our circle of Sicily was Avola, although the town isn’t a big tourist stop there is so much to see nearby with a few ‘must see’ places and here is our itinerary below:
- Avola, July 8-13 (5 nights), we stayed in Avola, travel distance from Pozzillo to Avola 2 hrs.
We stayed right in the town of Avola near its central square, there isn’t a lot to see in the town itself but plenty nearby so I would devote a minimum of one or two days, we stayed for 5 and kept busy. Avola is central to all seven of the famous Sicilian towns in the Val di Noto known for their Baroque architecture, buildings that were built in the popular style of this era after the area was decimated then rebuilt following the earthquake of 1693. Most notable is the city of Ragusa which we’d suggest as a ‘must see’, its about an hour inland from coastal Avola so if you only have a day you might want to stay closer. You could spend at least half a day wondering in amazement at its baroque architecture, ornate Cathedral and beautiful municipal park then head to one of the other towns (maybe Noto or Modica) or some of the nearby beaches which are some of the best in Sicily. If you want to see older ruins then head to Siracusa’s Parco Archeologico dating back to the 5th century, we didn’t make it here but heard it is worth seeing.
For more info and suggestions on things to do around Avola check back for my upcoming post on Avola, Sicily. For now, here is a link to our photos of Avola, Siracusa, Ragusa, Acireale, Avola and a nearby beach called Fontane Bianche.
Fifth on our Sicilian Adventure was the area of Agrigento, its ‘Valley of the Temples’ which is the largest archaeological site in the world is a ‘must see’, here is our intinerary;
- Agrigento, July 13-18 (5 nights), we stayed in Castrofilippo, travel distance from Avola to Agrigento approx. 3 hrs.
We stayed at the most amazing Sicilian Villa just outside the small town of Castrofilippo (nothing to see here) but anywhere near Agrigento would be a good place to base yourself. You could stay in the city of itself or one of the nearby beach-side towns in the municipality of Realmonte. You need at least a day here but two would be better, the ‘must see’ items are the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento which would take half a day minimum, then go see the Scala dei Turchi and spend the rest of the day at the beach.
For more info and suggestions on things to do around Agrigento, about the Archeological park and how to get there, about the Scala dei Turchi, local beachs and things to see then check back for my upcoming post on Agrigento, Sicily. For now, here is a link to our photos of The Valley of the Temples and Scala dei Turchi.
The sixth stop on our tour of Sicily was the area of Trapani, we stayed in Marsala and there is so much to see in this area. Here was our itinerary;
- Trapani, July 18-22 (4 nights), we stayed in Marsala, travel distance from Agrigento to Marsala approx. 2 hrs.
I would give at least two or maybe three days to visit this area. We stayed in Marsala which is a lovely town on its own with a beautiful seaside old center, fabulous beaches nearby and some great wineries but you could choose other towns in the area as your base. Trapani is the ‘must see’ city with over 21 elaborate churches in its old, baroque center so you could stay here or nearby. We loved, loved, loved Erice so it’s also a ‘must see’ but only a cable car ride above Trapani making it easy to do both in a day for a shorter stay.
Another must, is to spend a day at the beach of San Vito Lo Capo about an hour drive away, the most beautiful beach in all of Sicily and maybe one of the top in the world. You could also visit the Archeological Park in Seqesta if you need more ancient ruins or take a boat trip from Trapani to one of the Egadi Islands, Favignano being the most popular and don’t forget a visit to Marsala’s old town for a Canoli and glass of Marsala wine.
For more info and suggestions on things to do around Marsala, what to see and how to get there check back for my upcoming post on Marsala. For now here is a link to our photos on San Vito Lo Capo, Trapani, Erice, and Marsala. Here is a link to one of my most popular videos on the gorgeous beach of San Vito Lo Capo.
Our seventh and final stop is the capital city of Palermo where we landed and started this great adventure. I think a few days are needed here and you’ll want to stay directly in the city for this itinerary (you’ll want to return you car, you don’t want or need to drive in Palermo);
- Palermo, July 22-26 (4 nights), we stayed in Palermo, near the train station, travel distance from Marsala to Palermo, approx. 2 hrs.
You will need at least one day for the city, it has an incredible historic center to wander and the best outdoor markets in all of Sicily. If you have enough time in the day you might want to take a bus to see the Cathedral in Monreale for its incredible mosaics. Another day would be needed if you want to chillax at one of the beach clubs in Mondello, the cities famous beach resort area. You could also visit the beaches at Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve if you have more time or San Vito Lo Capo isn’t that far from the city either.
For more info on Palermo, check back for my upcoming post but for now here is a link to our photos of Palermo.
Whatever length of holiday you have, whether you love the beach, enjoy wineries, prefer the history, dig amazing architecture, love to eat, enjoy outdoor pursuits or need adventure, Sicily has it all and something for everyone. It’s a safe place to travel, not as expensive as other parts of Europe and most people understand at least a little English. If you are planning a trip here you won’t be disappointed and we’d love to answer any questions you might have, just send us a note through the blog and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. We’d especially love to hear about your trip when you get back and appreciate any tips to pass on for others!